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Motion would give council final say on garbage contract - CTV

May 17, 2011

Mayor Rob Ford and his administration conceded a key point in the debate over privatizing trash collection Tuesday morning, before city council could settle into what was expected to be a day-long debate on the subject.

A recommendation to give city managers final say in awarding the seven-year contract to provide service to 165,000 homes in the city's west end was taken off the table, instead giving council the chance to review the deal to replace the city's unionized workers.

"It is going to come back to council," Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works committee, told reporters. "The public is going to be reassured that this process is completely open and transparent and that all the rules are followed, and that we will have the best bid awarded."

Staff had originally recommended that council vote on whether to replace the current unionized service but leave the approval of the new contract to city staff. The new motion would give council final say and could ease opposition from centrist councillors.

Mark Ferguson, president of CUPE local 416, said the mayor was forced to back down from the point because of the pressure put on them by the public. "It is certainly a victory for Torontonians today," he told CTV Toronto.

City council continued the debate over a staff proposal to privatize garbage collection between Yonge Street and the Humber River to the west, Tuesday afternoon.

The city says it will cut about 300 jobs, most of them temporary positions and will save about $8 million a year.

Minnan-Wong says the change will not result in any service cuts or changes to the city's environmental initiatives.

An Ipsos-Reid public opinion poll released Monday showed that 61 per cent of Torontonians surveyed on the issue agreed that collection should be privatized, while 30 per cent disagreed.

However the union says the plan will not save any money, will put people out of work and will harm the city's blue and green bin programs.

The union claims the estimate is flawed and says at least 240 of the affected positions are full-time unionized employees.

Two separate reports -- one by the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) and another commissioned by CUPE -- suggested the city's numbers don't add up.

The plan to privatize garbage was a key issue in Ford's election campaign, during which he attacked former mayor David Miller's handling of a 2009 garbage strike.

On Tuesday, Ford suggested councillors had the choice to vote to support "big spending" or to put an end to Toronto's old "tax-and-spend" mindset.

"I think people said ‘enough is enough' after they endured a 40-day garbage strike last year," Ford told council during Tuesday's debate. "It hurt our city, it hurt tourism and it hurt our livelihood. We cannot have any more garbage strikes in this city."

With a report from CTV Toronto's Alicia Markson

As originally published here: http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110517/garbage-meeting-tuesday-privatization-meeting-council-city-toronto-110517/20110517?hub=TorontoNewHome

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